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Kellen Mond on Return; Zimmer Explains Status of QB for Vikings-Broncos


EAGAN, Minn. — Kellen Mond is unlikely to play in Saturday's preseason opener against the Broncos.

But that might actually be a good thing for the Vikings rookie quarterback who has endured a whirlwind over the past two weeks.

The third-round pick was looking to build off a strong spring when his training camp was halted due to a positive COVID-19 test on July 31. Mond subsequently had to be away from the building for 10 days, which meant missing valuable practice reps.

The 22-year-old chatted with Twin Cities media members after Thursday's practice and detailed what life has been like recently for him.

"It was really frustrating, especially when I found out I tested positive. I wasn't sure if it was a false positive or not," Mond said. "So knowing that I had to sit out 10 days, it definitely hurt, especially coming off a good OTAs and then looking forward to coming in and learning more there in training camp.

"But I can't dwell on what's happened in the past and I'm just looking forward to getting better," Mond added.

The four-year starter at Texas A&M said he was still able to stay virtually engaged in meetings, and also watched practice film with the play calls in hand to stay locked in. Mond was removed from the Reserve/COVID-19 List on Wednesday.

"I think it set me back a little bit," Mond said. "If I would have went home and I didn't study the script or I didn't stay on top of everything I think it would have hurt me a little bit more.

"But I felt really good out here, moving in the pocket, making great throws," Mond added. "I've just got to continue to get more comfortable in the offense, understand my reads and what I can and can't do and I think I'll be fine."

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer chimed in on Mond's recent performance after Thursday's joint practice with the Broncos.

"Honestly, Mond needs to pick up the tempo. Everything is slow-motion, a little bit, but he did make some good throws today, I thought, and moved out of the pocket a couple of times," Zimmer said. "He needs a bunch of experience, so he's going to get a lot of reps in this preseason.

"Just watching him, everything needs to get sped up, faster and quicker, because it happens so much faster than he's used to, I'm sure," Zimmer added.

Mond said he feels "100 percent" now after battling some symptoms, adding that he focused on staying in shape and keeping his weight up when he was away.

Mond missed the Vikings annual Night Practice, and the first week of padded practices, so the joint sessions with the Broncos were actually a welcome sight for him.

And while Mond likely won't see the field Saturday, the next few weeks will be crucial to him in his development as a rookie.

"Super beneficial for me … my first days [of] full speed," Mond said. "The last time was back at the Senior Bowl in January … so I think getting used to the shoulder pads.

"Getting back calling plays in the huddle and stuff … I think that was good to just be out here, and I think I did a really good job." Mond added.

As for the three other backup quarterbacks on the roster, Zimmer provided updates on each of them.

That included both some praise for Jake Browning, who led a go-ahead drive in a 2-minute drill Thursday but needed a touchdown on fourth-and-11 to do so, and a criticism.

"He's going to get some [plays] this week," Zimmer said of Browning. "I was really impressed with him in the 2-minute drill here that he did. He's been impressive when Kirk [Cousins] was out. He's just a get-it-done guy, a leader. Players fight for him. He listens.

"I was talking to him a couple of times about the situations there, 'It's third down now, you can't clock it.' He threw the one ball over there on the side, and it's third down, we've got to use a timeout," Zimmer added. "It was a 2-yard loss or whatever it was. You've got to just throw that away. Those are the kinds of things that experience helps with these guys."

View photos of Vikings players at the second joint training camp practice with the Broncos on August 12 at the TCO Performance Center.

Vikings second-year quarterback Nate Stanley didn't practice either day against the Broncos.

"Yeah, he's hurt," Zimmer said about Stanley before adding: "You've got to be available. We'll see. We've got three preseason games and we'll see if we can give him an opportunity and see what he can do."

Danny Etling is also on Minnesota's roster, as he was added when Cousins, Mond and Stanley were away from the facility due to the COVID-19 protocols agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA.

Zimmer had some praise for the former Purdue and LSU quarterback.

"Yeah, it's been limited, obviously, but he seems to have a pretty good grasp on the offense, seems to move pretty well in the pocket," Zimmer said. "It looks like he throws pretty well. We've still got a ways to figure out what we're doing, but he's been all right."

Rosters must be trimmed from 90 players to 85 on Aug. 17, and then cut down to 80 players on Aug. 24. The 53-man roster (and practice squad) must be set on Aug. 31.